Formations Summary

May–August 2020

Unit 1: The Spirit and Power

LaMon Brown

This unit, leading up to the day of Pentecost, explores the role of the Holy Spirit as depicted in Luke and Acts. In Luke, we will see the Spirit descend upon Jesus after his baptism and will hear Jesus encourage us to be bold in praying for the Spirit to be active in our own lives. Turning to Acts, we will sit with the apostles as Jesus teaches them about the Holy Spirit who will empower them to take the gospel to the ends of the earth. Then, we’ll walk with Philip in Samaria, a great evangelistic work that culminates with the coming of the Holy Spirit to these new believers. Finally, we will hear Paul’s conversation with twelve disciples who has not yet received the Holy Spirit. The presence and power of the Holy Spirit changed the lives of Jesus and the early Christians. That presence and power is still available to us today.

Unit 2: The Beloved Disciple

Hillary B. Kimsey

The Gospel of John differs from the other three New Testament Gospels in many ways. One of those is the inclusion of a character known only as “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” As we study the texts in this unit, we will examine the Beloved Disciple more as a symbol than a literal person. Whoever this figure may have been in history, in the Fourth Gospel he is depicted as an idealized example of a disciple. By studying him, we may learn more about what it truly means to follow Christ’s invitation to “come and see.” Then, in turn, we may follow his example by bearing witness to others about everything we have seen and heard.

Unit 3: The Book of Hosea

Wayne Ballard

The book of Hosea comes from the northern kingdom of Israel. Hosea is the only voice we have of a northern kingdom prophet, and was likely written around 750 BC, shortly after the book of Amos and before Israel’s destruction in 722 BC. Even so, Hosea’s message is timeless: God demands faithfulness. Over the course of five weeks, we will explore how Hosea used lessons from his own marriage to unfaithful Gomer, described in chapters 1–3, to shed light on his theme of faithfulness in chapters 4–14. Like us today, the people of Israel struggled to uphold the covenant they had made with God. Hosea calls us back to purity in worship, thought, and deed.

Unit 4: Humor in the Bible

Leigh Powers

The four lessons in this unit will help us see how lightheartedness and humor can be part of the life of faith. Our first lesson will study several verses from Proverbs that speak about the benefits of cheerfulness, gladness, and joy. Lesson two will help us explore the relationship between sorrow and joy, discovering that joy embraces sorrow’s power to point us to Christ. Our third lesson will guide us to consider how we can express joy as we celebrate God’s unchanging goodness. Lesson four will explore how Isaac’s miraculous birth lifted Abraham and Sarah’s spirits, turning their doubt into delight. Joy at God’s blessings can encourage us and invite us into a life of deeper faith.

September–December 2020

Unit 1: Parables in Luke

Starlette Thomas

The parables are a part of the gospel tradition that showcase Jesus’ habit of turning the usual meanings of things upside down. In simple words, Jesus draws inspiration from our everyday lives and turns our tales into something that can teach profound lessons. Jesus can make any story powerful, drawing listeners in and pointing them to meanings they didn’t see coming. He recasts characters and puts them in surprising settings to show us what our communal story can be. This unit highlights the parables of the good Samaritan, the great dinner, the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the persistent widow, revealing them to be relatable stories about everyday relationships. These stories convey profound lessons about community and the kingdom of God.

Unit 2: God’s Good Gifts

Nikki Finkelstein-Blair

Both Old and New Testaments offer viewpoints of stewardship that go far beyond fiscal-year budgeting and weekly offering envelopes. The practice of stewardship isn’t just for individuals who need a reminder to dole out their ten percent. Rather, it is a practice for a whole life, proceeding naturally out of our understanding of God, our relationships with one another, and our gratitude for all the gifts we have received. This unit will explore stewardship in passages from Psalms, James, Proverbs, and Colossians. Together, we will find that we are a church made up of stewards at work and worship, seeking wisdom, gratefully giving, and ready to serve.

Unit 3: The Ark of the Covenant

Mary Elizabeth Hill Hanchey

This unit about the ark of the covenant begins when the people of Israel are just learning to live in the wilderness and ends with them established in Jerusalem under King David. The span of this ark narrative portrays the presence of God among the people. Lesson 1 focuses on God’s choice to dwell among the people in a portable, active way. Lesson 2 focuses on the ark’s placement in the tabernacle. The third lesson describes the Day of Atonement, when the ark is used to ritually cleanse the people of their sin. Finally, lesson 4 describes King David’s uninhibited, worshipful dancing before the ark. As we study these lessons, may we reflect on what it means to approach the sacred, both in worship and in everyday life.

Unit 4: The King Is Coming

Taylor Sandlin

We rightly connect the Advent season with the virtues of hope, peace, joy, and love. But for many people, the darkness of winter brings depression and memories of loss. The five lessons in this unit will help us consider the meaning of Christ’s coming: the blessings he brings and the challenges he lays before us. Our guides will be biblical writers of the Old and New Testaments who bore witness to these things, either anticipating the difference Jesus makes or practicing discipleship in light of his incarnation. This will be a unit of hope and joy, of prophets and martyrs. In the midst of it all, Christ the King awaits us.